For my exchange, I elected to go to Leeds University. This was an exciting but scary prospect leading up to leaving Adelaide, as I had never before lived away from home or even been away from my family for longer than a week. The prospect of arriving in England alone in the cold dark of midwinter and knowing no one was highly daunting. However, whilst there have undeniably been times when I have missed my family, my friends and the weather at home, Leeds has turned out to be one of the greatest experiences and best decisions of my life.
I feel like exchange has given me the opportunity to grow as a person away from my parents. Living in student halls in Leeds has given me the experience of living out of home, but without having to worry about utility bills. I’ve learned to cook for the first time, and have had to learn how to budget. It has also been the first time that the cost of necessities such as detergent and toilet paper has come out of my own bank account; I feel this has given me much greater understanding of the value of money. I have also been able to discover more about myself, and I feel that being away from friends and family at home for this period has actually made me appreciate everything I have at home more than I did before leaving. I hope that greater appreciation will make me easier to live with at home! I definitely think that exchange has made me mature a lot as a person.
The greatest thing about exchange is definitely the friends that I have made. The girls I live with are like sisters to me and even though we have only known each other for months, it feels like years and the idea of not seeing them everyday seems very strange. Outside my close friends, I have also been able to meet people from all over the world; I can now say I have a couch to sleep as far apart as Ireland, Hong Kong, Chile and New York. Everyone entering exchange comes with the intention to make new friends and have fun, making this very easy to do! Leeds is especially good for this as it is renowned for it’s nightlife; there have been weeks where we have gone clubbing every night!
The final amazing thing about exchange has been how many opportunities for travel I have had. Flights run out of Manchester for less that twenty pounds; I have managed, during my holidays so far, to visit Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia. In the coming months, I will also be visited Iceland, France, Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Much of these travels have been with the great people I have met during the course of my exchange.
Overall, the experience has been the best of my life and I could not recommend this experience enough to anyone.